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Minnesota Orchestra gets $10M 'leadership gift' from donors

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As the Minnesota Orchestra gets ready for its first full season since the end of a 16-month lockout, the organization announced Wednesday it received a $10 million "leadership gift" this summer, most of which will be put toward the Building Toward the Future Endowment.

While the majority of the sum will be put toward the endowment "to help secure the organization's artistic future" the release says, some will be used to fund artistic initiatives starting with the upcoming 2014-15 season.

"The donors’ intent in making the contribution was to encourage others who believe in the Orchestra as a cultural asset to similarly signal their support through generous gifts," the release says.

The Star Tribune says the $10 million gift is one of the largest the orchestra has received in recent years.

In addition to the leadership gift, the orchestra received another three gifts totaling $3.2 million over the course of the summer, bringing the full amount to $13.2 million.

“These contributions represent a giant step forward for the Minnesota Orchestra," Board Chair Gordon Sprenger says in the release. “These donors have made clear their confidence in the Orchestra and have recognized the importance of offering support for both the present and future needs of the organization.”

The three additional gifts will be used as follows:

  • $1.2 million to support both the 2014-15 season and the Building for the Future Endowment.
  • $1 million to fund the Building for the Future Endowment.
  • $1 million for a still-unspecified use.

The orchestra operated on a budget deficit of $1.1 million for fiscal year 2013, with expenses totaling $13.1 million; it was an improvement from the previous year's $6 million deficit, which came with a $31.5 million price tag.

The Star Tribune spoke with incoming interim president Kevin Smith, who told the paper very preliminary numbers have them expecting a deficit of less than $1 million this year, on a budget of about $21 million.

The Minnesota Orchestra opens its season Friday, Sept. 5, with a gala benefit concert featuring soprano Renée Fleming. Osmo Vänskä will conduct. (You can view the full season schedule here.) The widely respected Vänskä received a new contract in April after quitting during the lockout.

President and CEO Michal Henson is set to leave his post at the end of the month, a decision which led to the resignation of eight of the orchestra's board members. Smith will take over at that time.

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